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erudition even of a marchande des modes; and that perience; in "Shirley" that standing point is simply because we knew that there were women frequently abandoned, and the artist paints only a profoundly ignorant of the mysteries of the toil-panorama of which she, as well as you, are but ette, and the terminology of fashion, (independent spectators. Hence the unity of "Jane Eyre," in of the obvious solution, that such ignorance might spite of its clumsy and improbable contrivances, be counterfeited, to mislead,) and felt that there was great and effective; the fire of one passion, was no man who could so have delineated a woman fused the discordant materials into one mould. -or would so have delineated a man. The fair But in "Shirley" all unity, in consequence of and ingenious critic was misled by her own acute-defective art, is wanting. There is no passionate, ness in the perception of details; and misled also link; nor is there any artistic fusion, or interin some other way, and more uncharitably, in con- growth, by which one part evolves itself from cluding that the author of "Jane Eyre" was a another. Hence its falling-off in interest, coherent heathen educated among heathens-the fact being, movement, and life. The book may be laid down that the authoress is the daughter of a clergyman! at any chapter, and almost any chapter might be. This question of authorship, which was some- omitted. The various scenes are gathered up into what hotly debated a little while ago, helped to three volumes-they have not grown into a work. keep up the excitement about "Jane Eyre ;" but, The characters often need a justification for their independently of that title to notoriety, it is certain introduction; as in the case of the three cuthat, for many years, there had been no work of rates, who are offensive, uninstructive, and unasuch power, piquancy, and originality. Its very musing. That they are not inventions, however, faults were faults on the side of vigor; and its we feel persuaded. For nothing but a strong beauties were all original. The grand secret of sense of their reality could have seduced the authorits success, however-as of all genuine and last-ess into such a mistake as admitting them at all. ing success-was it reality. From out of the depths of a sorrowing experience, here was a voice speaking to the experience of thousands. The aspects of external nature, too, were painted with equal fidelity-the long, cheerless winter days, chilled with rolling mists occasionally gathering into the strength of rains-the bright spring mornings-the clear solemn nights-were all painted to your soul as well as to your eye, by a pencil dipped into a soul's experience for its colors. Faults enough the book has undoubtedly: faults of conception, faults of taste, faults of ignorance, but, in spite of all, it remains a book of singular fascination. A more masculine book, in the sense of vigor, was never written. Indeed, that vigor often amounts to coarseness-and is certainly the very antipode to "lady-like."
This same over-masculine vigor is even more prominent in "Shirley," and does not increase the pleasantness of the book. A pleasant book, indeed, we are not sure that we can style it. Power it has unquestionably, and interest too, of a peculiar sort; but not the agreeableness of a work of art.
We are confident she has seen them, known them,
Through its pages we are carried as over a wild and desolate heath, with a sharp east wind blowing the hair into our eyes, and making the blood tingle in our veins. There is health perhaps in the drive; but not much pleasantness. Nature speaks to us distinctly enough, but she does not speak sweetly. She is in her stern and sombre mood, and we see only her dreary aspects. "Shirley" is inferior to "Jane Eyre" in sev-known laws of their associations, the fiction is at eral important points. It is not quite so true; and once pronounced to be monstrous, and is rejected. it is not so fascinating. It does not so rivet the read- Art, in short, deals with the broad principles of er's attention, nor hurry him through all obstacles human nature, not with idiosyncracies: and, of improbability with so keen a sympathy in its although it requires an experience of life both reality. It is even coarser in texture, too, and comprehensive and profound, to enable us to say not unfrequently flippant; while the characters are with confidence, that "this motive is unnatural," almost all disagreeable, and exhibit intolerable or "that passion is untrue," it requires no great rudeness of manner. In "Jane Eyre" life was experience to say "this character has not the air viewed from the standing point of individual ex-of reality; it may be copied from nature, but it
does not look so." Were Currer Bell's defence and rudeness is something which startles on a first allowable, all criticism must be silenced at once. reading, and, on a second, is quite inexplicable. An author has only to say that his characters Is this correct as regards Yorkshire, or is the are copied from nature, and the discussion is fault with the artist? In one place she speaks closed. But though the portraits may be like the with indignant scorn of those who find fault with oddities from whom they are copied, they are Yorkshire manners; and defies the "most refined faulty as works of art, if they strike all who never of cockneys to presume" to do such a thing. met with these oddities as unnatural. The curi-"Taken as they ought to be," she assures us, ous anomalies of life, which find their proper" the majority of the lads and lasses of the West niches in Southey's "Omniana, or Commonplace Riding are gentlemen and ladies, every inch of Book," are not suitable to a novel. It is the same with incidents.
How happy, for example, is this :—
them; and it is only against the weak affectation and futile pomposity of a would-be aristocrat that Again we say that "Shirley" cannot be re- they even turn mutinous." This is very possiceived as a work of art. It is not a picture; but ble; but we must in that case strongly protest a portfolio of random sketches for one or more against Currer Bell's portraits being understood to pictures. The authoress never seems distinctly be resemblances; for they are, one and all, given to have made up her mind as to what she was to to break out and misbehave themselves upon very do; whether to describe the habits and manners small provocation. The manner and language of of Yorkshire and its social aspects in the days of Shirley towards her guardian passes all permission. King Lud, or to paint character, or to tell a love Even the gentle, timid, shrinking Caroline enters story. All are by turns attempted and aban- the lists with the odious Mrs. Yorke, and the two doned; and the book consequently moves slowly ladies talk at each other, in a style which, to and by starts-leaving behind it no distinct or southern ears, sounds both marvellous and alarmsatisfactory impression. Power is stamped on ing. But, to quit this tone of remonstrance— various parts of it; power unmistakable, but which after all is a compliment, for it shows how often misapplied. Currer Bell has much yet to seriously we treat the great talents of the writer learn-and, especially, the discipline of her own let us cordially praise the real freshness, vividtumultuous energies. She must learn also to ness, and fidelity, with which most of the charsacrifice a little of her Yorkshire roughness to the acters and scenes are depicted. There is, perdemands of good taste; neither saturating her haps, no single picture representing one broad writings with such rudeness and offensive harsh- aspect of nature which can be hung beside two or ness, nor suffering her style to wander into such three in "Jane Eyre;" but the same piercing and vulgarities as would be inexcusable-even in a loving eye, and the same bold and poetic imagery, man. No good critic will object to the homeli- are here exhibited. ness of natural diction, or to the racy flavor of conversational idiom; but every one must object The evening was pitch dark star and moon to such phrases as "Miss Mary, getting up the were quenched in gray rain-clouds-gray they steam in her turn, now asked," &c., or as "mak- would have been by day; by night they looked ing hard-handed worsted spinners cash up to the sable. Malone was not a man given to close obsertunc of four or five hundred per cent.," or as vation of nature; her changes passed for the most "Malone much chagrined at hearing him pipe up most varying April day, and never see the beautipart unnoticed by him; he could walk miles on the in most superior style," all which phrases occur ful dallying of earth and heaven-never mark within the space of about a dozen pages, and that not in dialogue, but in the authoress' own narrative. And while touching on this minor, yet not trivial point, we may also venture a word of quiet remonstrance against a most inappropriate obtrusion of French phrases. When Gerard Moore and his sister talk in French, which the authoress translates, it surely is not allowable to leave scraps of French in the translation. A French word or two may be introduced now and then, on account of some peculiar fitness, but Currer Bell's use of the language is little better than that of the "fashionable" novelists. To speak of a grandmother as une grand'mère, and of treacle as mélasse, or of a young lady being angry as courroucée, gives an air of affectation to the style strangely at variance with the frankness of its general tone.
We scarcely know what to say to the impertinence which has been allowed to mingle so largely with the manners, even of the favorite actors in this drama. Their frequent harshness
when a sunbeam kissed the hill-tops, making them smile clear in green light, or when a shower wept over them, hiding their crests with the low hanging dishevelled tresses of a cloud.
How pictorial, again, is her notion of the sea :
I long to hear the sound of the waves-ocean waves!-and to see them as I have imagined them in dreams, like tossing banks of green light, strewed with vanishing and reappearing wreaths of foam, whiter than lilies.
But one may remark how little the placid smile that rests on the grand calm face of nature in the fulness of life and abounding power, attracts the attention of the writer; and how much more readily the scenes of a dispiriting gloom, of stern, savage energy, or of wailing sadness, rivet her eye and solicit her pencil. The very force with which she depicts such scenes reveals her sympathies.
There is only one cloud in the sky; but it curtains it from pole to pole. The wind cannot rest;
it hurries sobbing over hills of sullen outline, colorless with twilight and mist. Rain has beat all day on that church tower: it rises dark from the stony enclosure of its graveyard; the nettles, the long grass, and the tombs all drip with wet.
It gives one a chill to read such a passage! Here is another bit of storm landscape, worthy of a Backhuysen
The thunder muttered distant peals; but the storm did not break till evening, after we had reached our inn; that inn being an isolated house at the foot of a range of mountains. I stood at the window an hour, watching the clouds come down over the mountains. The hills seemed rolled in sullen mist, and when the rain fell in whitening sheets, suddenly they were blotted from the prospect; they were washed from the world.
The two heroes of the book, however-for there are two are not agreeable characters; nor are they felicitously drawn. They have both something sordid in their minds, and repulsive in their demeanor. Louis Moore is talked about as if he were something greater than our ordinary humanity; but, when he shows himself, turns out to be a very small person indeed. Robert, more the canvas, is disgraced by a sordid love of money, energetic, and more decisively standing out from and a shameless setting aside of an affection for Caroline in favor of the rich heiress. He will be universally condemned; for all our better instincts rebel against him. The authoress will appeal in vain here to the truth of such sordidness-the truth of thus discarding a real passion in favor of an ambitious project. True it is: true of many The following interior is singularly graphic:- men; but not true of noble natures-not true of an ideal of manhood. In a subordinate character They had passed a long wet day together with such a lapse from the elevation of moral rectitude, out ennui; it was now in the edge of dark; but candles were not yet brought in. Both, as twi- might have been pardoned; but in a hero-in the light deepened, grew meditative and silent. A man for whom our sympathies and admiration are western wind roared high round the hall, driving almost exclusively claimed to imagine it pos wild clouds and stormy rain up from the far-remote sible, is a decided blunder in art, as well as an ocean: all was tempest outside the antique lattices, inconsistency in nature. A hero may be faulty, all deep peace within. Shirley sat at the window erring, imperfect; but he must not be sordid, watching the rack in heaven, the mist on earthlistening to certain notes of the gale that plained Rochester was far more to be respected than this mean, wanting in the statelier virtues of our kind. like restless spirits-notes which, had she not been so young, gay, and healthy, would have swept her Robert Moore! Nor is Louis Moore much better. trembling nerves like some omen, some anticipatory On any generous view of life there is almost as dirge in this, her prime of existence and bloom much sordidness in his exaggerated notions of of beauty, they but subdued vivacity to pensive- Shirley's wealth, and of the distance it creates beness. Snatches of sweet ballads haunted her ear: tween his soul and hers, as there is in Robert's now and then she sang a stanza; and her accents direct and positive greed of the money. obeyed the fitful impulse of the wind; they swelled as its gusts rushed on, and died as they wandered Louis, as a tutor, should be sensitive to any peraway. Caroline, withdrawn to the farthest and sonal slight, should deeply feel that he was no darkest end of the room, her figure just discernible "match" for the heiress, we can readily underby the ruby shine of the flameless fire, was pacing to stand; but if he thought so meanly of her as to and fro, murmuring to herself fragments of well-suppose that her wealth was any barrier to her remembered poetry.
affection, then he was unworthy of her.
Similar power is manifested in the delineation The heroines are more lovable. Shirley, if of character: her eye is quick, her hand certain. she did not occasionally use language one would With a few brief vigorous touches the picture rather not hear from the lips of a lady, and did starts into distinctness. Old Helstone, the cop- not occasionally display something in her behavior, per-faced little Cossack parson, straight as a ram-which, with every allowance for Yorkshire plainrod, keen as a kite; Yorke, the hard, queer, ness, does imply want of breeding-Shirley, we clever, parson-hating, radical-gentleman; the say, would be irresistible. So buoyant, free, benevolent Hall; the fluttering, good, irresolute Mrs. Pryor; the patient, frugal, beneficent old maid, Miss Ainley; Hortense and Moore, and the Sympson family-are all set with so much life before us, that we seem to see them moving through the rooms and across the moor. As a specimen of the nervous, compact writing, which not unfrequently occurs to relieve the questionable taste of the rest, take the sentence describing the Sympsons ::
airy, and healthy in her nature, so fascinating in her manner, she is prettily enough described by her lover as a "Peri too mutinous for heaven, too innocent for hell." But if Shirley is, on the whole, a happy creation, Caroline Helstone, though sometimes remarkably sweet and engaging, is—if we may venture to say so—a failure. Currer Bell is exceedingly scornful on the chapter of heroines drawn by men. The cleverest and acutest of our sex, she says, are often under the strangest illusions about women-we do not read them in their true light; we constantly misapprehend them, both for good and evil. Very pos
Mr. Sympson proved to be a man of spotless respectability, worrying temper, pious principles, and worldly views. His lady was a very good woman, patient, kind, well-bred. She had been sibly. But we suspect that female artists are by brought up on a narrow system of views-starved no means exempt from mistakes quite as egregious on a few prejudices; a mere handful of bitter when they delineate their sex; nay, we venture herbs. to say, that Mrs. Pryor and Caroline Helstone are
as untrue to the universal laws of our common as a work of art, must be struck with want of nature as if they had been drawn by the clumsy keeping in making the gentle, shy, not highly hand of a male; though we willingly admit that cultivated Caroline talk from time to time in the in both there are little touches which at once be- strain of Currer Bell herself rather than in the tray the more exquisite workmanship of a woman's strain of Helstone's little niece. We could cite lighter pencil. several examples; the most striking, perhaps, is that long soliloquy at pages 269-274, of the second volume, upon the condition of women—in which Caroline takes a leaf out of Miss Mar tineau's book. The whole passage, though full both of thought and of eloquence, is almost ludicrously out of place. The apostrophes to the King of Israel, to the fathers of Yorkshire, and to the men of England, might have rounded a
but to introduce them into a soliloquy by Caroline Helstone is an offence at once against art and against nature.
Mrs. Pryor, in the capital event of her life at least as far as regards this story-belies the most indisputable laws of our nature, in becoming an unnatural mother-from some absurd prepossession that her child must be bad, wicked, and the cause of anguish to her, because it is pretty! The case is this. She marries a very handsome man, who ill-treats her; the fine gentleman turns out a brute. A child is born. This child, period in one of the authoress' own perorations; which universal experience forces us to exclaim must have been the darling consolation of its miserable mother; this child, over whom the mother would have wept scalding tears in secret, This, however, is but one point in the faulty hugging it closer to her bosom to assure her flut- treatment of the character. A graver error-one tering heart, that in the midst of all her wretch- implying greater forgetfulness of dramatic reality edness, this joy remained, that in the midst of all and probability—is the conduct of Caroline in her the desolation of home, this exquisite comfort was love for Moore. The mystery kept up between not denied her yet this child, we are informed, the two girls is the trick of a vulgar novelist. she parts with because it is pretty! "I feared Shirley must have set Caroline's mind at rest; your loveliness, deeming it the sign of perversity. must have said, "Don't be unhappy about Moore They sent me your portrait, taken at eight years and me; I have no love for him-nor he for me." old; that portrait confirmed my fears. Had it Instead of this, she is allowed to encourage the shown me a sunburnt little rustic-a heavy, blunt- delusion which she cannot but perceive in Carofeatured, commonplace child-I should have has- line's mind. But what is more incredible still, tened to claim you; but there, under the silver Caroline-who believes that Moore loves Shirley paper, I saw blooming the delicacy of an aristo- and will marry her-never once feels the sharp cratic flower: 'little lady' was written on every and terrible pang of jealousy! Now, unless we trait. * In my experience I had are to be put out of court as men, and consenot met with truth, modesty, good principle, as quently incompetent to apprehend the true nature the concomitants of beauty. A form so straight of woman, we should say that this entire absence and fine, I argued, must conceal a mind warped of jealous feelings on Caroline's part, is an omisand cruel!" Really this is midsummer madness! sion, which, conscious or unconscious, we cannot Before the child had shown whether its beauty did reconcile with anything we have ever seen. conceal perversity, the mother shuts her heart heard, or read of, about the sex. That a girl against it! Currer Bell! if under your heart like Caroline might be willing to resign her claims, had ever stirred a child, if to your bosom a babe might be willing even to submit in silence to the had ever been pressed-that mysterious part of torture of her disappointment, is conceivable your being, towards which all the rest of it was enough; and a fine theme might this have afforded drawn, in which your whole soul was transported for some profound psychological probings, laying and absorbed never could you have imagined open the terrible conflict of irrepressible instincts such a falsehood as that! It is indeed conceivable-under some peculiar circumstances, and with peculiar dispositions-that the loathing of the wife for the husband might extend to the child, because it was the husband's child; the horror and hate being so intense as to turn back the natural current of maternal instincts; but to suppose We have been more than once disturbed by that the mere beauty and "aristocratic" air of an what looked like wilful departures from probainfant could so wrest out of its place a woman's bility in this novel. We are by no means righeart-supposing her not irretrievably insane-orous in expecting that the story is to move and for eighteen years keep a mother from her along the highway of every-day life. On the child, is to outrage all that we know of human
with more generous feelings-the conflict of jealousy with reason. But Caroline Helstone merely bows her head in meekness, and loves and clings to Shirley all the more; never has even a moment's rebellion against her, and behaves like pattern young ladies in "good" books!
contrary, we are willing to allow the imagination full sweep; but we demand, that into whatever Not quite so glaring, and yet very glaring, is region it carry us, it must be at least consistent: the want of truth in Caroline. There are traits if we are to travel into fairy land, it must be in a about this character quite charming; and we fairy equipage, not in a Hansom's cab. Now doubt not she will be a favorite with the majority there are many regions in " Shirley" where we of readers. But any one examining "Shirley" are glad enough to find ourselves; it is against
the method by which we are transported to them that we protest. Thus in the second volume there is a really remarkable tirade about Milton's Eve as an eloquent rhapsody we can scarcely admire it too much; but to be asked to believe that it was uttered in a quiet conversation between two young ladies, destroys half our pleasure. Let the reader judge for himself:
"The gray church and grayer tombs look divine with this crimson gleam upon them. Nature is now at her evening prayers; she is kneeling before those red hills. I see her prostrate on the great steps of her altar, praying for a fair night for mariners at sea, for travellers in deserts, for lambs on moors, and unfledged birds in woods. Caroline, I see her! and I will tell you what she is like ;she is like what Eve was when she and Adam stood alone on earth."
"And that is not Milton's Eve, Shirley." "Milton's Eve! Milton's Eve! I repeat. No, by the pure mother of God, she is not! Cary, we are alone; we may speak what we think. Milton was great; but was he good? His brain was right; how was his heart? He saw heaven; he looked down on hell. He saw Satan, and Sin his daughter, and Death their horrible offspring. Angels serried before him their battalions: the long lines of adamantine shields flashed back on his blind eyeballs the unutterable daylight of heaven. Devils gathered their legions in his sight-their dim, discrowned, and tarnished armies passed rank and file before him. Milton tried, too, to see the first woman; but, Cary, he saw her not."
"You are bold to say so, Shirley."
"Not more bold than faithful. It was his cook that he saw!-or it was Mrs. Gill, as I have seen her, making custards. In the heat of summer, in the cool dairy, with rose-trees and nasturtiums about the latticed window, preparing a cold collation for the rector's preserves and dulcet creams,' -puzzled what choice to choose for delicacy best-what order so contrived as not to mix tastes, not well-joined, inelegant; but bring taste after taste, upheld with kindliest change.'
"All very well too, Shirley."
"I would beg to remind him that the first men of the earth were Titans, and that Eve was their mother! From her sprang Saturn, Hyperion, Oceanus-she bore Prometheus."
Pagan that you are!—what does that sig
I say, there were giants on the earth in those days-giants that strove to scale heaven! The first woman's breast that heaved with life on this world nursed the daring which could contend with Omnipotence-the strength which could bear a thousand years of bondage-the vitality which could feed that vulture, Death, through uncounted ages—the unexhausted life, and uncorrupted excellence, sisters to Immortality, which, after millenariums of crimes, struggles, and woes, could conceive and bring forth a Messiah. The first woman heaven-born-vast was the heart whence gushed the well-spring of the blood of nations, and grand the undegenerate head where rested the Consort Crown of creation."
"She coveted an apple, and was directed by a snake; but you have got such a hash of Scripture and mythology into your head, that there is no making any sense of you. You have not yet told me what you saw kneeling on those hills,"
"I saw, I now see, a Woman-Titan! Her robe of blue air spreads to the outskirts of the heath, where yonder flock is grazing; a veil, white and arabesques of lightning flame on its borders. as an avalanche, sweeps from her head to her feet, Under her breast I see her zone, purple like that horizon; through its blush shines the star of evening. Her steady eyes I cannot picture; they are clear-they are deep as lakes-they are lifted and full of worship—they tremble with the softness of love and the lustre of prayer! Her forehead has the expanse of a cloud, and is paler than the early moon, risen long before dark gathers; she reclines her bosom on the ridge of Stillbro' Moor; her mighty hands are joined beneath it. So kneeling face to face she speaks with God! That Eve is Jehovah's daughter, as Adam was his son."
"She is very vague and visionary! Come, Shirley, we ought to go into church."
"Caroline, I will not; I will stay out here with my mother, Eve, in these days called Nature. I love her-undying, mighty being! Heaven may have faded from her brow, when she fell in Paradise; but all that is glorious on earth shines there still. She is taking me to her bosom, and showing me her heart. Hush, Caroline! you will see her and feel as I do, if we are both silent."
Then, again, there is Louis Moore writing long What he writes is narratives in his note-book. often striking; and had the authoress only thought of making him keep a journal, probability would have been sufficiently saved. But, instead of that, she obliges him to sit down in Shirley's room, draw out a note-book, and proceed to write very circumstantially, for our benefit, what every one feels he would never have written at all. And while writing he is so intensely conscious of being read, that he says, "I confess it-to this mute page I may confess it-I have waited an hour in the court for the chance of seeing her. I have noticed (again, it is to this page only I would make the remark) that she will never permit any one but myself to render her assistance!" It is remarkable, too, that nothing whatever is gained by telling the story in this way. All that Louis Moore writes might have been better told by the authoress, without subterfuge. We may make the same remark as to Robert Moore's confession of
his scene with Shirley. Its effect would be far
The attack on the Mill, too, instead of being described in the natural course of the narrative, is told us in snatches of dialogue between the two girls; who, in utter defiance of all vraisemblance, are calm spectators of that which they could not have seen. It is scarcely worth while to point out the several details in this scene, which betray a female and inexperienced hand. Incident is not the forte of Currer Bell. If her invention were in any degree equal to her powers of execution, (with a little more judgment and practice,) she would stand alone among novelists; but in invention she is as yet only an artisan, not
As a proof of this poverty of invention, we may refer again to the singular awkwardness of making Moore confess to Yorke the interview he had had with Shirley, and the terms on which he